Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the nomination of Richard A. Ball as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
“Richard Ball is a lifelong farmer and advocate for sound farm policy who will bring fresh ideas and strong leadership to the Department of Agriculture and Markets,” Governor Cuomo said. “Agriculture is a vital sector of the state’s economy, providing thousands of jobs, food for people around the globe, and a way of life for generations of New Yorkers. Richard embodies the proud tradition of farming here in New York State and will be a superb addition to this Administration.”
A native New Yorker, Mr. Ball has made a living in agriculture his entire life. His inspiration to become a farmer came from his grandparents, who were lifelong dairy farmers. At 18 years old, Mr. Ball began his career in agriculture as a farm worker at a vegetable farm in Rhode Island. He later became operations manager of that same farm. After 20 years in Rhode Island, Mr. Ball moved back to the Empire State with an opportunity to become a farm owner. For the past 20 years, he has been the owner and operator of Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie, NY, which consists of 200 acres and produces a wide range of vegetable crops, small fruits and greenhouse crops. The farm serves both retail and wholesale consumers through an onsite farm market known as “The Carrot Barn” and ships to brokers and restaurants in the local area as well as New York City.
Mr. Ball has held a number of positions within agriculture and community organizations at the local, state and national level, including:
- Vice President - New York State Vegetable Growers Association
- Board of Directors, Member of Executive Committee, Member of Audit Committee, Chairman of Labor Committee - New York Farm Bureau
- Member of Labor Committee (past Chairman) - American Farm Bureau
- Representative for Schoharie County - Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council
- Board of Directors (past President) - Schoharie County Farm Bureau
- President - Schoharie Valley Association
- Chairman - Schoharie Recovery, Inc., a non-profit formed to help the recovery effort from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee
- Past President - Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Ball, his wife Shirley, and his three children are actively engaged in farming with a growing number of future farmers among the grandchildren.
Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau, said, “New York Farm Bureau could not be more pleased with the Governor’s outstanding selection of Richard Ball to be the next Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets. As a farmer, Richard understands the needs and challenges we all face on our farms. That knowledge and the respect he has among his peers will serve the state’s agricultural community well. We look forward to continuing Farm Bureau’s strong partnership with Richard and Governor Cuomo to support every farmer in New York.”
Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, said, “On behalf of the faculty and staff at CALS, I extend my congratulations to Richard Ball on this appointment. We look forward to working closely with Mr. Ball on key issues facing New York State’s farmers and producers. This is an exciting time for agriculture, and I am confident that his experiences and expertise will help New York State continue to lead the way.”
Mark Henry, President of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, said, “The New York State Vegetable Growers Association is proud and excited to hear about fellow vegetable farmer, Rich Ball’s, nomination as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. Rich is first and foremost a farmer. He’s watched his land flood, worked through blizzards, and watched the first green tips push their heads above soil every spring in spite of all the challenges. With the nomination of Rich Ball as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Vegetable Growers Association feels that 2014 is starting out on a positive note.”
Jim Allen, President of the New York Apple Association, said, “I’ve known Richard Ball for a number of years and have worked with him on many different initiatives, including the Pride of NY program. He has an astute knowledge of all aspects of agriculture. His operation in Schoharie is a destination for thousands every year and I think he is an absolutely wonderful choice as our state’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.”
GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen said, “On behalf of GrowNYC, I’d like to congratulate Richard Ball on this well-deserved nomination as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. Richard Ball understands the importance of building relationships between upstate agriculture and downstate consumers, and we look forward to working with him to expand opportunities for New York agricultural producers across New York City in the future.”
Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said, “Governor Cuomo’s selection of Richard Ball as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets is a strong choice, and great news for the state’s vibrant wine and grape industry. Mr. Ball understands that pro-growth agricultural policies lead to a robust farm sector. We’ve seen it already with the growth of our farm-based beverage industry and in a number of other industries across the state. I look forward to working with Commissioner Ball on Taste NY and other state initiatives designed to promote New York products.”